Just like the beach, a job hunt beckons in summer--Washington Post
By Vickie Elmer
Sunday, July 11, 2010
While some job seekers took a break in the summer months, Sheila Paige used the time to land interviews and contract work. This year, the manager of nonprofit organizations found June to be crazy-busy with interviews, and she had to choose between two job offers.
Despite summer's slower feel, which is exacerbated in Washington by the congressional recess, recruiting continues during that period. "There is no slow time" for searching, said Paige, who lives in the District.
Many people drop out of the search for part or all of the summer, thinking decision-makers aren't around or jobs aren't being filled, said Kate Wendleton, president of the Five O'Clock Club, which offers job-search groups, coaching and other services to job seekers. "We want our job hunters to put their foot to the pedal at those times because the competition is relaxing."
When job seekers in the Five O'Clock Club stay committed and target organizations they've identified as good fits, they land "more than an average number" of jobs in August, Wendleton said. (The same is true in December, she noted.) The New York-based organization has members, employed and unemployed, in the Washington region and nationwide.
Job seekers on the hunt during summer face less competition than those who begin -- or restart -- their searches in September, she said. They may be perceived as hardworking and more diligent than those who spend the summer at the beach or tending gardens.
Yet with a tough economy, more job seekers are at least checking online listings all summer. More than 23 million people visited job Web sites last July, and 24 million visited them in August, about the same as during spring and fall months. November and December are the only months to record fewer visits to employment sites in recent years, according to comScore Media Metrics data.
Employers are hiring this summer, Wendleton said, noting that her organization was "deluged" with openings after e-mailing 5,000 employers in late June. Many companies, trying to avoid being overwhelmed by job seekers, are not posting their openings. Instead, individuals must make themselves known to their targeted employers. "Give your pitch and do a follow-up phone call," she said. "Stay in touch with them. Stay in touch with them. Stay in touch with them."
Tom Dezell noted that more voluntary resignations and retirements occur either in summer or at year's end, especially in many government agencies and departments.
"The more relaxed atmosphere of the summer might welcome more chances to meet up with people," said Dezell, a career coach and author of "Networking for the Novice, Nervous or Naive Job Seeker." He also works as a career adviser for the Maryland Professional Outplacement Assistance Center.
Associations and churches stage summer picnics; nonprofit organizations schedule golf outings; and families go to swim meets, softball games and backyard barbecues. Any of those settings could connect a job seeker with someone who can open the door to a new job.
Many professional associations hold one summer event -- a picnic or some other outdoor event. Others are dark during July and August. Yet their executive committees and planning committees are organizing events for fall, Wendleton said. "Get on that committee" and pick up a membership directory to use in your search, she said.
Paige has been considering a change from her events-management jobs for years, in part to travel less. She has worked as a consultant and as a full-time staffer, and became serious about her search two years ago. She agrees with Wendleton that job seekers must do their homework on the organization and the hiring manager.
"You don't arbitrarily paper the street with your résumé" in summer or any season, she said. She used her connections as well as a targeted online search to secure interviews and two offers. She accepted one of those offers and started last week. "Business doesn't stop in the summer," Paige said, noting that people on the job hunt must keep searching, too. "You never know when that opportunity will surface."
Vickie Elmer is a freelance writer.